2024 NFL draft running back projections: Rankings, stats, comps

Two running backs were chosen in the top half of the first round of the 2023 NFL draft: Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 8 and No. 12, respectively. It was the first time that had happened since Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were selected with the Nos. 4 and 8 overall picks back in 2017.

It's likely that won't happen again in the 2024 NFL draft. In fact, there might be no running backs chosen in this year's first round, as this is a very weak class. Scouts Inc.'s top running back prospect, Texas' Jonathon Brooks, ranks 43rd on their board.

The weak class is compounded by the fact that running backs have fallen in the draft in general over the past few years. NFL teams save their high picks on the true premium positions and draft running backs in later rounds. In addition, there are no highly rated backs in this class who are also seen to be very strong receivers by our BackCAST projection system.

Here is how our projections work. BackCAST projects NFL running back success based on statistics that have correlated with success in the past. Historically, a college running back who has a good size-speed combination, has a high average yards per carry and represented a large percentage of his college team's running attack is more likely to succeed at the NFL level.

BackCAST considers these factors and projects the degree to which the running back will exceed the NFL production of an "average" drafted running back during his first five years in the NFL.

For example, a running back with a +50% BackCAST is projected to gain 50% more yards than the "average" drafted running back. BackCAST also projects whether each running back is likely to be heavily involved in the receiving game or is more of a "ground-and-pound" back.

What follows are some of the notable BackCAST projections for the running back prospects available in the 2024 draft, plus picks for a sleeper and overrated player in this class:

Projecting the top RBs in the 2024 draft